I walked around a bit and Little Man moved closer bit by bit. I finally walked pretty close and started poking around in my fanny pack.
He stepped closer, I closed the distance and held out my hand. When his muzzle touched my hand I clicked and treated.
I kept working on grasping his halter and holding it or moving it. I also started applying a bit of pressure to the side of his head and stepping to the left in front of him. He moved his head a bit a couple of times. Once he actually picked up a hoof and moved it slightly in that direction! And after that he didn't move his head a bit, and I ended up on the other side of his head still holding his halter.
If he looked pressured, I moved off a little ways, and gave him a chance to circle around and approach me again, which he did. He seems more comfortable with my hand being on his halter. He is still sometimes moving his head away from my hand, but when I don't let go he doesn't jerk his head away or run off. I don't pull; I just move my hand along with his head. When he hears that click he is in treat mode!
I am now rubbing his forehead and/or stroking his neck in between halter grasps. I only click for halter grasps. He is still angling his head, like he is trying to get my hand over to the halter. My goal is still to get the halter off him. But I'm thinking I might as well start working on moving his head a bit, as long as I can't get the halter off yet.
I forgot to mention that yesterday I tried putting both hands on him. Only a couple of times since I've had him has he allowed both my hands on him at once, and that was only for a second or two on his neck. So I thought I should start getting him used to it, because I will get the halter off faster and more smoothly with both hands. I grasped the halter at the buckle with my right hand, and laid my left hand on his face above the noseband. He did NOT like it, and started looking panicky, so after a couple times I went back to one hand. I didn't want the clicker by his ear, anyway. I remember that about the second or third day, he spooked at the clicker and whirled around. I don't think he would do that now, because he really knows what it means. But still it would be loud in his ear, and he is a sensitive little thing.
We ended with a small piece of peppermint treat.
Sometime in the midafternoon
I went out and Little Man came up to the gate. I stroked him and patten him on the neck. He angled his head, but I didn't touch his halter because I didn't have my clicker and things. I did give him a cracker before I left. He let my husband rub his forehead!!!! Without pulling his head away! This was a first.
Session #2 - around 7:00 p.m.
I went out to the back fence and worked with Little Man and Kong. Kong decided that he could get my attention by pawing at the fence. I started working with the buckle of the halter and the strap started moving! I kept working, clicking, and treating, going back to just moving the halter around whenever Little Man appeared nervous. The strap finally came out of the bottom of the buckle. I got the prong out of the hole, lifted the strap, and gently slid the halter right off him! He stood the whole time without shying! Of course, I gave him a peppermint treat for that one!
I offered to let him smell it, but he declined. So dropped it on the ground behind me, and kept working. I worked on cupping my hand under his jaw and applying just a little pressure, then clicking and treating. He seemed a great deal calmer once that halter came off. And he is even more handsome! I shall have to take a new portrait tomorrow.
When I was ready to leave, I picked up the halter and offered to let him smell it again. He touched it with his muzzle, and I clicked and treated. I left, and he stayed behind to clean up the treat we had spilled. (I am using 10% horse feed. He may get a bit fatter, but this is worth it!)
I am SO HAPPY!!!!!
Thank you to everyone for all your help, encouragement, support, and advice! THANK YOU!
Blessings on you,